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New Technology in Schools: Is There a Payoff?

  • Stephen Machin
  • Sandra McNally
  • Olmo Silva

In recent years the role of investment in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) as an effective tool to raise educational standards has attracted growing attention from both policy makers and academic researchers. While the former tend to express enthusiastic claims about the use of new technologies in schools, the latter have raised concerns about the methodological validity of much of the research undertaken. The view that ICT could help to raise educational standards dates back to the Fifties, and builds on some of the original findings by the Harvard psychologist Skinner (1954, 1958). More recently, support for the effectiveness of ICT as a teaching and learning device comes from the educational literature. Yet results are generally inferred from simple correlations between ICT and pupil performance, without taking full account of other factors (such as school characteristics, resources and quality) that may be related to both ICT resources and pupil outcomes. These methodological short-comings cast serious doubt on the validity of most of the existing research which finds a positive relationship between computers (and/or computer software) and student outcomes. In contrast, the small number of economic studies that address these issues by applying more rigorous methods of analysis, report no evidence for a positive impact of ICT on pupil outcomes. In recent years, and in parallel with the widespread belief that new technologies account for much of the productivity resurgence in workplaces in the Nineties (see Jorgenson and Stiroh, 2000), the UK government has motivated its sizable ICT investment in schools by stressing the importance of ICT in raising educational standards and creating opportunities for every child. The positive rhetoric about ICT in the UK has been backed up by considerable government investment. Starting from 1997, the government has encouraged the widespread use of ICT for teaching and learning in schools: formal plans were set-up u

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Paper provided by Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE in its series CEE Discussion Papers with number 0055.

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Date of creation: Jan 2006
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Handle: RePEc:cep:ceedps:0055
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://cee.lse.ac.uk/publications.htm

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  1. Austan Goolsbee & Jonathan Guryan, 2006. "The Impact of Internet Subsidies in Public Schools," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(2), pages 336-347, May.
  2. Leuven, Edwin & Lindahl, Mikael & Oosterbeek, Hessel & Webbink, Dinand, 2004. "The Effect of Extra Funding for Disadvantaged Pupils on Achievement," IZA Discussion Papers 1122, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Ashenfelter, Orley & Krueger, Alan B, 1994. "Estimates of the Economic Returns to Schooling from a New Sample of Twins," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(5), pages 1157-73, December.
  4. Imbens, G. & Angrist, J.D., 1992. "Average Causal Response with Variable Treatment Intensity," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1611, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  5. Cecilia E. Rouse & Alan B. Krueger, 2004. "Putting Computerized Instruction to the Test: A Randomized Evaluation of a "Scientifically-based" Reading Program," NBER Working Papers 10315, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Dale W. Jorgenson & Kevin J. Stiroh, 2000. "Raising the Speed Limit: US Economic Growth in the Information Age," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 261, OECD Publishing.
  7. Thomas Fuchs & Ludger Wossmann, 2004. "Computers and student learning: bivariate and multivariate evidence on the availability and use of computers at home and at school," Brussels Economic Review, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles, vol. 47(3-4), pages 359-386.
  8. Joshua Angrist & Victor Lavy, 1999. "New Evidence on Classroom Computers and Pupil Learning," NBER Working Papers 7424, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Esther Duflo & Abhijit Banerjee & Shawn Cole & Leigh Linden, 2006. "Remedying Education: Evidence from Two Randomised Experiments in India," Working Papers id:360, eSocialSciences.
  10. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-in-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275, February.
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